The Philadelphia DUI Law Blog

April 2010 Archives

New DUI Law Poses Problems for Repeat Offenders

Pa DUI lawyers are facing a new challenge in the courts.

Several new laws are in the state legislature, all imposing harsher penalties for driving under the influence.

Earlier in this blog, we talked about state Representative Tom Houghton and his bid to propose harsher legislation involving ignition interlock for DUI offenders.

Now, another state politician has introduced legislation which would change the way DUI offenders can be sentenced.

Pa Turnpike Official Gets DUI, Again

Are Pa DUI lawyers seeing a trend among Pennsylvania Turnpike officials?

It seems that Pennsylvania Turnpike officials like to break the law. And quite often, they are caught red-handed.

For the third time in approximately one year, a Pennsylvania Turnpike official has been arrested. George Hatalowich, 44, was arrested earlier this month on charges of drunk driving. Hatalowich is the chief operating officer of the Pennsylvania Turnpike commission. Hatalowich allegedly drove a car that spun out of control on April 5. The car then crashed into a fence in Derry Township, Dauphin County.

Facebook and MySpace: Problems for Pa DUI Lawyers

Underage drinking and driving is a huge problem for Pa DUI lawyers. And with prom season fast approaching, issues related to underage drinking are coming to light. In recent weeks, there have been several trials dealing with underage DUI offenders. What's interesting is that many of these cases present similar issues for Pennsylvania DUI lawyers.

One issue, that is becoming quite common for Pa DUI lawyers, is the issue of social networking. Society in general, but more specifically the younger generation, has moved into the de-privatization of life's everyday events.

What do I mean by that?

Man Charged With DUI Death of Skateboarder

An Ambler Pa man has been charged with the DUI homicide of a thirteen year old boy last month. The man had allegedly been driving under the influence of drugs.  

Andrew Richard Meyers, 25, was driving at 63 miles per hour in a 25 miles per hour zone, when he struck thirteen year old Natan Luehermann-Cowan, who was on his skateboard. Meyers was driving in the opposite lane when he hit the boy.  

Subsequently, Meyers admitted to detectives that he was a heroin addict. According to Montgomery Country District Attorney Risa Ferman, Meyers had apparently been purchasing methadone on the street and was using the substances to medicate himself.

Cumberland County Has a Unique Way to Test Blood

Cumberland County is certainly unique, when it comes to blood alcohol testing. The county has taken the step to hire a part time phlebotomist.

A phlebotomist? If you can't pronounce the word, don't worry. Most Pa DUI lawyers probably can't, either. But most Pa DUI lawyers do know what the word means. It refers to a type of scientist-- the type who draws and analyzes blood.

Usually, the lab tests on blood are done outside the booking centers. What can happen, if a DUI case goes to trial, is that these lab workers may sometimes be called to court to testify. This can be an added expense, as well as a waste of time. 

Rep. Tom Houghton Proposing New DUI Laws

Let's revisit the topic of ignition interlock, shall we?

Pennsylvania DUI attorneys know that the topic of ignition interlock is an important one. The state of Pennsylvania has essentially been lagging in its highway safety laws. Of those laws, one of them relates to the ignition interlock system. Pennsylvania has been criticized for not mandating the ignition interlock system for all of its DUI offenders.

Now, a Chester County lawmaker is stepping up to the plate and introducing legislation that would mandate first-time DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles.

Insult to Injury: Stroudsburg Man Gets DUI, Disorderly Conduct Charges

Here's an interesting story for Pa DUI lawyers:

The Pocono Record claims that a Stroudsburg man "added insult to injury" when stopped for driving under the influence.

What exactly do they mean by that and why would that concern a Pennsylvania DUI lawyer?

Crafty Pa DUI Lawyer Gets Client's DUI Charge Dropped

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How did Ashley Stumpf's Pa DUI lawyer convince the authorities to drop her DUI charges?

Ashley Stumpf, 21, was facing charges relating to a car accident in September of 2008, where two of her passengers, James Henderson, 28, and David Roble, 21, were killed. As a result, she was charged with vehicular homicide while driving under the influence. Ashley Stumpf had allegedly admitted to using heroin shortly before the accident.

So, what's her Pa DUI attorney's secret? What was the "smoking gun" in this case?

Recent DUI Sentences in Hancock and Bradford Counties

Pa DUI lawyers need to stay current with recent convictions and sentences. Pennsylvania DUI lawyers can often grasp the potential pitfalls of a DUI case better if they know a particular court's sentencing trends.

Here are some recent DUIs from Hancock County, Pa.:

A McDonald, Pa. man pleaded guilty to driving with a suspended license from driving under the influence. He received a sentence of 30 days in jail and had his driving privileges suspended. He will also serve a six months unsupervised probation period.

Fox Chase Woman Gets Scolded, Sentenced by Judge

A Fox Chase woman was reprimanded by a Pennsylvania judge last week after being convicted of killing the son of a Chinese immigrant family in 2005 while driving under the influence. 

"You took a lot," the judge said, "and you owe a lot to this community."

Amanda Everly, 24, was convicted of homicide after a 2005 DUI crash that left Phillip Yu, 24, dead. Phillip Yu was the only child of a Chinese immigrant family and he was the family's translator. He helped his parents navigate through English-speaking Philadelphia.

But in his absence, his parents are left fending for themselves.

Underage DUI Offender Gets Sent to Juvy

Underage DUI is a huge, yet understated problem for PA DUI lawyers. And with prom season just over the horizon, Pennsylvania DUI attorneys are gearing up for the specific problem of youths driving while under the influence of marijuana.

In recent weeks, PA DUI lawyers have faced off against the court representing underage DUI offenders who were high on marijuana behind the wheel. At a sentencing hearing in Norristown last week, a Montgomery County judge reprimanded a teenage driver who was responsible for a fatal crash that killed two other teens and injured three more.

Let's Talk ARD: Part 2- Requirements

So, you want to get into the ARD program?

First of all, let's back up, for those of you who don't know what the ARD program is. It's the Alternative Rehabilitative Disposition program. A program which essentially functions as an alternative to a lengthy trial process, a conviction, and a possible mandatory jail sentence. It's a program appreciated by PA DUI lawyers and coveted by DUI offenders.

DUI Judge Throws the Book at Joseph Genovese Jr.

Joseph Genovese Jr. appeared with his PA DUI lawyer on Tuesday as he faced sentencing on charges of driving under the influence.

And the sentencing judge threw the book at this DUI offender. Of course, the offender's MySpace page didn't help. It showed off images of his mug shot.

20 year old Joseph Genovese Jr. was sentenced to a prison term of 7 to 14 years behind bars. He pleaded guilty in February to driving under the influence. Joseph Genovese Jr. had been high on marijuana when he struck and killed 53-year old Cindy Grassi. Grassi's friend, Sandy Wacker, was critically injured in the same accident accident, which happened back in 2008.  

Tobyhanna Man Faces DUI Charges

A 29 year old man from Pocono Summit is facing the threat of charges against him in an April 3 crash on Route 940.

The one-vehicle rollover crash occurred on Route 940, near Short Lane in the Pocono Summit, Tobyhanna Township. The man, Stephen Argot, was found alive at the scene. After the crash, he had to climb out of his Chevy Blazer.

Upon detecting the odor of an alcoholic beverage on Argot, police conducted a field sobriety test. As expected, he failed the field sobriety test and was subsequently arrested by the Pocono Mountain Regional Police. He then consented to having his blood drawn at Pocono Medical Center. The results from the blood test are still pending.

Man on Lawnmower Gets DUI in Tennessee

A Tennessee man was arrested for driving drunk, behind the wheel of a lawnmower.

Once again, we turn the question to local law and ask our Pennsylvania DUI lawyers what constitutes a "vehicle" under Pennsylvania DUI law, or under DUI law in general:

According to the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, a vehicle is:

"every device in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, except devices used exclusively upon rails or tracks."

PA DUI Checkpoints Alert! Pike County on Weekend of April 16

Attention all Pike County, Pennsylvania DUI lawyers: Time to dust off your books and get prepared for some clients from PA DUI checkpoints. There is a planned DUI checkpoint in Pike County this weekend.

That's right. For the laymen, here's the scoop: The police will be out on the roads in Pike County. So if you've had a few beers too many, stay off the roads.

According to the Pocono Record, the PA DUI checkpoints are in response to a high rate of drunk driving violations in Blooming Grove.

Miss Philadelphia Andrea Helfrich is Anti- Drunk Driving

Miss Philadelphia is speaking out against drunk driving.

On March 27, twenty-one year old Andrea Helfrich was crowned "Miss Philadelphia 2010" at the Mandell Theater in Drexel University. Her pageant platform was the fight against drunk driving. But having been a victim of drunk driving herself, the cause is personal to the twenty-one year old beauty queen.

Andrea Helfrich was a sophomore at Council Rock High School Couth in Bucks County when she was a victim in a DUI crash. She sat in the rear passenger side of a vehicle that was hit from behind by a woman who was intoxicated at the wheel.

Weekly Roundup: DUI Sentencing in Bucks County

As we've mentioned before on this blog, a good way for your PA DUI lawyer to figure out which defense tactics to use in a DUI case is by looking at recent convictions within a given county. It's a good way for PA DUI attorneys to gauge what the general sentences look like for specific charges. 

It's generally standard under PA DUI law, for a DUI convict to lose their driving privileges for 12 months. In addition to losing privileges, the DUI offender may face jail time or may have to pay a fine. In some cases, the DUI offender must pay restitution, which essentially means that he or she must pay for the victim's monetary damages.

Here is a roundup of some recent DUI convictions from Bucks County, Pennsylvania: 

Program Urges Youth to 'Make a U-Turn'

With prom season approaching, PA DUI attorneys are bracing themselves for the underage drinking that comes with the festivities. As a result, some Pennsylvania social advocates have taken it upon themselves to educate youth and promote safe driving this prom season.

The Pennsylvania DUI Association has launched a campaign called "Pull a U Turn," which is designed to combat many myths and misconceptions about underage drinking and driving.

Donte Stallworth Back in the Game After NFL Suspension

Pennsylvania DUI attorneys might know of Donte Stallworth's case; if they're fans of the Baltimore Ravens. Donte Stallworth, the wide receiver for the Ravens, is back to playing the game after a suspension by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

In a recent press conference, Stallworth addressed his DUI and the guilt he still feels at the subsequent death that occurred in the DUI incident. Mario Reyes, a Miami construction worker, was killed at the hands of Donte Stallworth, when he struck and killed Mario Reyes while driving under the influence of alcohol.

Feds Crack Down on Dialing and Driving on East Coast

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Watch out for the Department of Transportation! That's the advice Pennsylvania DUI lawyers are giving to PA drivers who want to venture out into Syracuse, N.Y. or Hartford, CT in the coming weeks.

Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, said in a statement that law enforcement would be cracking down on dialing while driving as part of a pilot project in those two east coast cities. The pilot project will cost $600,000 and will be implemented as a preventive measure for dialing while driving.

PA State Police Release Info on Easter DUIs

Drunk driving is up this this year, according to a press release from the Pennsylvania State Police. As a result, PA DUI lawyers are finding themselves much busier than they were last year.

According to the press release, there were more DUI related charges during the Easter period in 2010 than there were during last year's Easter period. The Easter period this year extended from Friday April 2 through Sunday April 4. Last year's Easter period extended from April 10 to April 12. During the 2010 Easter period State troopers charged 340 people with driving under the influence. Last year, the State Police charged 266 people with DUI.

Bus Driver Suspected of DUI in Pittsburgh

Pennsylvania DUI attorneys need to speak up on one critical issue: Bus drivers driving drunk while on the job.

Several weeks ago, we discussed a story about a bus driver who was dialing-while-driving. As a result, this repeat dialer-while-driving killed a man. This was his second time! Ten years ago, he killed a little girl when he was dialing on his cell phone.

But the greater horror in the more recent event was the fact that he was driving a school bus while fiddling with his phone and iPod.

Man Wanted for DUI Gives Fake Name to Cops

You can't make this kind of news up. Good luck to the PA DUI attorneys in digging the man out of this mess.  

A man in Scranton allegedly gave a fake name to a police officer, and then took back his "fake name," admitting to the officer that he lied about his name.

The man, David Rabecs, 47, was wanted in Luzerne County on a DUI charge. He was stopped by an officer as he was arguing with two people on the 200 block of West Market Street. At the time, he identified himself to the officer as David Slater, 41.

The officer could not find any records for the man. David Rabecs allegedly told the officer his real name after that, and that he was wanted for a DUI.

Of course, he was arrested by the officer, for falsely identifying himself.

What's the lesson here? If you're already wanted for a DUI, rather than being on the run, perhaps you need to start looking for a reputable PA DUI attorney.

Ex-Steelers Joey Porter Stopped in Cali for DUI

Although PA DUI lawyers won't be representing on this DUI case, many are familiar with the suspect. A local celebrity, former Steelers' linebacker Joey Porter, was stopped in California on suspicion of driving drunk. He was also accused of resisting arrest, and battery on a peace officer.

Of course, Joey Porter's DUI lawyer claims that the facts were somewhat different. He claims that Joey Porter was in fact, the one who was hit by the peace officer.

Interestingly, Joey Porter's DUI lawyer claimed that the breath test was inaccurate and intends to contest it; alleging that there is a 2% margin of error. This may be a tactic that many PA DUI lawyers are all too familiar with.

What is Ignition Interlock?

This is not the first time we've discussed ignition interlock on this blog. But as any Pennsylvania DUI attorney would tell you, ignition interlock is a subject you could never discuss too much of on a Pennsylvania DUI law blog. It's up there, with breathalyzers, sobriety checkpoints and the ARD program-- a good topic to know.

In our previous post, we discussed the fact that the state of Pennsylvania has been called out for being behind on highway safety laws. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette criticized the state of Pennsylvania for being behind on several laws, including the texting-while driving laws and mandating ignition interlock for drunk driving convicts.  

What is "ignition interlock"?

Popular Scranton Jock Chase Passeri Gets DUI Jail Sentence

Pennsylvania DUI attorneys for a former West Scranton High School football player sat through the sentencing of their client, last week. Chase Passeri, 19, was on trial for driving while under the influence in December of 2008 in Newtown Township.

Chase Passeri will be serving six to twenty-three months in Lackawanna County Prison for a crash that injured four people. Chase Passeri's PA DUI lawyers were successful with one thing however. They pushed the fact that Chase Passeri had been sober for 10 months and that he has been participating in rehabilitation programs.

Bikes, Buggies and La-Z-Boys: Vehicles Under PA DUI Laws

Pennsylvania DUI attorneys know one thing well:

That DUI cops are very diligent in enforcing the law that says that a vehicle is "any device"  that could be used for highway transport.

Yes, the DUI cops are zealots when it comes to the definition of "vehicle".

Earlier this year, they arrested a man on a bicycle. A 27 year old Broadheadsville man, Justin Dawson, was arrested in the wee hours of the morning after a Chestnuthill Township police trooper saw Justin Dawson on his bicycle outside the Burger King on Route 209. At the time of arrest, Justin Dawson resisted restraint and had to be physically subdued, according to the police report.

Serial DUI Offender Pleads No Contest on 11th DUI

You've heard of serial killers and serial rapists.

Now, meet a serial DUI offender.

We've repeatedly cautioned readers against repeat offense and the difficulty a repeat offense poses on PA DUI lawyers. PA DUI attorneys can sometimes get their clients off on lighter sentences if it's a first time offense.

Sometimes.

Weekly Roundup: Recent ARD Sentences

As always, PA DUI lawyers stand to gain some good wisdom and insight by looking at recent convictions and sentences in the area.

Recent sentences and convictions can give a Pennsylvania DUI attorney an idea of what to expect from a certain judge or County court. The recent sentences and conviction information can also help DUI suspects to see what their options are and what penalties they might be subject to.

Not Guilty! How Their PA DUI Lawyers Did It

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Pennsylvania DUI lawyers who are knowledgeable know how to get someone off the hook on DUI charges, if there is any possibility of acquittal. Not every DUI case can end in an acquittal, but if there is a loophole, trust a PA DUI lawyer to work through that loophole.

First, let's break down the legal jargon.

An acquittal is the finding of innocence of a person charged with a crime.

Essentially, in a criminal DUI trial, the defendant is subject to the finding of the jury. All the facts and evidence is presented to the jury by the PA DUI lawyer. The jury's role is to determine if the defendant is guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt. The judge's role is to be the gate-keeper, deciding which evidence can be presented and which evidence must be excluded.

So in all reality, Pennsylvania DUI lawyers must convince the jury that their client is not guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt.

Let's look at two recent acquittals:

Boy Loses 2 Grandpas in 2 Crashes on Same Day

Poor little Jason Kroh Jr. He lost not one, but two grandfathers on the same day, in two different car crashes.

How can this story not tug on the heart strings of PA DUI attorneys? Little Jason, only three years old, lost his paternal grandfather to a DUI car accident.

Little Jason's other grandfather was killed 15 hours later, in a different, non DUI-related crash.

Now, a Florida man has been sentenced in Pennsylvania court, following the DUI deaths of John Kroh Sr. of Tremont and John Becker of Pine Grove. Twenty-nine year old Richard Finch pleaded guilty to homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol. He also pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI.

Study: Dialing and Driving is Like A DUI

It's high time PA DUI lawyers caught up on the issue of distracted driving. According to Focus Driven, a group of advocates against dialing and driving, the solution goes beyond the use of a hands-free device.

No, they claim. Hands-free devices are not the solution. Advocates are saying that carrying on a phone conversation while driving is dangerous-- with or without the hands free. A psychology professor at the University of Utah, David Strayer, claims that "inattention blindness" is the culprit behind dialing-and-driving accidents. It's not the act of holding the cellular device, these experts say. Rather, it's the fact that drivers can become so engrossed in conversation that they often stop processing the stimuli in front of them.

Indeed, the University of Utah study indicates that no difference exists between a driver using a handheld and a driver using a hands-free device. And here's an even more chilling piece of research: According to a simulator study, cell phone users had slower reaction times than drivers impaired with 0.08 percent BAC!

What do DUI Officers Look For?

Here's an interesting question for Pennsylvania DUI attorneys: What happens when someone is stopped for a DUI in Pennsylvania?

The answer is generally the same for most DUI officers. However, sometimes direct input from a DUI officer can help you understand PA DUI laws a little better. 

In an article, based on a 2007 Pocono Record interview, a reporter asks a DUI officer for a detailed description of a DUI arrest. Here's a breakdown of what police officers in the Pocono region look for in a DUI arrest case:

Feds Want Law on Texting at Wheel For Trucks

PA DUI attorneys listen up! This just in on distracted driving laws: The federal government is trying to propose legislation on the issue of commercial drivers who text behind the wheel.

You see, as the legislative scheme currently works, the states typically handle driving laws within the states. But interstate commerce, as any Pennsylvania DUI attorney--or any attorney for that matter-- would know, is a matter where the federal legislature (aka Congress) has some sway on decision making and policy-making.  

And clearly commercial drivers who cross inter-state lines are within this "interstate commerce" jurisdiction. 

The Transportation Department is proposing a law to ban text messaging at the wheel by interstate commercial truck and bus drivers.

Was DUI a Factor in Teen's Hit and Run?

Plymouth Whitemarsh High School students aren't celebrating their boys' basketball victory today. On Sunday, Denise Cotteta, a senior at the high school, was killed while crossing the street in an alleged hit-and-run.

The seventeen year old planned to attend Pennsylvania State University and was a talented lacross athlete. But her life was tragically cut short on Sunday, as she stepped onto the roadway across the street from her high school. 

Although the case is still under investigation, the driver has been located and is cooperating with police. The car was identified by a friend of the victim's, shortly after the 11:30 p.m. hit-and-run. Unknown at this time is whether the driver has retained a PA DUI attorney to represent her. When asked by the Philadelphia Inquirer, authorities would not say whether alcohol was a factor in the case because the results of the blood-alcohol tests are still pending.